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Icarus Witch pretty well blew my socks off with their EP "Roses On White Lace", and I unrepentantly declared it one of the best classic Metal discs I had laid ears on since the glory days of Omen or Fates Warning. I have been keenly anticipating the release of their full-length, and lo, here it is. Does it live up to the hype? Almost, and that's saying something, as that EP produced a lot of high expectations.
For those sadly not in the know, Icarus Witch play unabashedly old-fashioned US Metal the likes of which few have heard since the 80's. There's a bit of old FW, a little Maiden, some Omen and Helstar, but that's the brilliant thing about Icarus Witch – they manage to be completely retro without sounding like a clone of any one band. This album is a highly enjoyable disc of old-style metal goodness, even though, as I expected, there is a bit of filler here on the full album. "Storming The Castle" is an OK opener, nothing great, but fun. The title track is better, and has a great chorus you will never stop singing. "Soothsayer" is a much more typical IW song, with a slow pounding beat and mystical lyrics. "Forevermore" is a more upbeat tune with some great melodies – a real album highlight. "The Ghost Of Xavior Jones" features Frank Aresti on guitars and is another slower, more intricate tune. "Darklands" is pretty good, if not a real firestarter. "Nemeton Forest" is one of the ones here I really love, as it's a dense, mystical epic like old-school Fates' used to write. "Awakening The Mountain Giants" is another song, like the opener, that just does not grab me. Enjoyable bits, but it never comes together. "S.A.T.O" is a cover of an old Ozzy song, and I guess it's OK, but I don't much care for covers.
If I had to level a complaint at this album, it would be that Icarus Witch never break out of their studied slow-to-midpaced groove and really rip. All these tunes are at a rather sentinel pace, and overall the album has a certain pall over it from the general similarity in tempo and intensity. The performances are all solid, especially the charismatic vocals of Matt Bizilia, but they are all, juuuust a little too . . . restrained, I guess is the word. This album is a definite grower, with tunes that get better the more you listen. It is not as direct, nor quite as aggressive as the EP, and the guitar tone is juuuust a tad smoother and not as heavy.
I like this album a lot, but I just wish for once Icarus Witch would really cut loose and wail. I like dark epics more than anyone, but a disc like this really could have used some faster cuts to spice things up. Anyone who loved the EP should certainly get this, just be prepared to give it a bit more time to sink in. Again, I see great things in the future for this band. Their masterpiece is yet to come, but "Capture The Magic" is a more than worthy debut.
Originally written for www.metalcrypt.com